Late summer is fruit fly season in my house.  All those beautiful summer fruits we love so much this time of year bring with them some baggage – fruit flies!  These uninvited visitors soon become a nuisance in the kitchen and I like to help them pack up and move on their way.  And, I have a cheap, non-toxic way to do so – a homemade fruit fly trap.  I make mine with simple items I already have in the house, so it’s a time saver, too.

Fruit Fly Trap Materials:

  • Glass jar (canning jar or a clean, wide-necked jar out of the recycling)
  • Household funnel (narrow neck)
  • Pieces of fragrant fruit (or pit or peel)

To assemble my trap, I place a piece of fragrant fruit in the canning jar, put the funnel upside down into the jar opening, and put it on my kitchen counter where fruit flies seem to be congregating (usually near our fruit bowl or by the kitchen sink), then voilà! Fruit flies are attracted to the fruit, crawl down into the trap, then become trapped inside because they can’t figure out how to get back out of the narrow funnel opening. 

Once a day I walk the trap outside, release the fruit flies, and dump the fruit in the compost bin.  I then wash the jar out and set up the trap to repeat the next day. I usually do this in the morning when I’m making breakfast or packing lunch – I’m already cutting up fruit then anyway so it’s easy to pop a peach pit or some cantelope rind in the jar at the same time.  If you don’t have a funnel, you can roll up a piece of paper into a cone shape so there is a narrow opening at one end, tape it in place, then set that down into the opening of the jar. 

The fruit flies in my house seem to be most attracted to cantaloupe, peaches, nectarines, lemons, and banana peels.  Sometimes when I have a group that seem finicky and avoid the trap when I use those fruits I switch things up and use a little vinegar or wine in the jar instead.  That can sometimes clear out the stragglers.

Over the years I’ve learned that effective fruit fly control also means being a bit more tidy and clean in the kitchen (I somewhat reluctantly admit this, not being an overly eager housekeeper). When we empty and clean our under-the-sink compost bucket every day, wipe down kitchen counters and under the sink regularly, keep dirty dishes out of the sink, and transfer ripe fruit to the refrigerator during the summer, it helps keep down the number of fruit flies I need to trap.

Nancy Uding is the Program Director at Toxic-Free Future.

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